LINEBERRY – Providence Grove’s Jordan Hodges limited Jordan-Matthews to five hits and fanned at least one batter every inning in going the distance on the mound while the Patriots tallied four …
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LINEBERRY – Providence Grove’s Jordan Hodges limited Jordan-Matthews to five hits and fanned at least one batter every inning in going the distance on the mound while the Patriots tallied four runs in the bottom of the second to take control early en route to whitewashing the Jets 8-0 in opening-round action of the 2019 NCHSAA 2A East Region state baseball playoffs Tuesday night on the winners’ field.
Improving to 14-4 lifetime against J-M while defeating the visitors from Siler City for the sixth time in their last seven meetings, eighth-seed Providence Grove raised its season record to 16-8 and will next host ninth-seed N.C. School of Science & Math (14-1) Friday evening in a second-round contest, whereas 25th-seed Jordan-Matthews finished the year with an overall mark of 12-11.
Hurling his fourth complete game and third shutout of the season, Hodges issued one walk and struck out eight in lowering his earned run average to a glistening 0.81. The senior right-hander threw a total of 89 pitches, including 60 (67%) for strikes.
Meanwhile, Jackson Jones and Ben Campbell collected two hits apiece to pace the Patriots’ eight-hit attack and combined to drive in five runs off a pair of Jets’ pitchers.
“Jordan has been our most consistent pitcher all year, and his eighth win tonight ties the single-season school record,” said Providence Grove coach Jerry Kidd, who earned his 159th victory in his 11th and final year guiding the Patriots, during which time he has led them to nine state playoff appearances.
“Not only did we take advantage of walks and misplays this evening, but we managed to get some big hits with guys in scoring position,” added Kidd. “We also played the glove well on defense with no errors, while the outfield did a good job keeping fly balls in front of them.”
Junior right-hander Samuel Murchison started on the hill for J-M and suffered the loss after yielding four hits and five earned runs in addition to walking three and whiffing six over four innings of work.
Senior southpaw Kevin Cano tossed the last two frames for Jordan-Matthews, surrendering four hits and three unearned runs while striking out two.
Referring to the fact three of his team’s four errors led directly to Providence Grove runs, Jets’ coach John Will Headen commented you can’t be kicking the ball around in the playoffs against a good ball club.
“It would have been nice to have our ‘A-game’ this evening, but instead I would grade us with a ‘D’ performance,” noted Headen.
“Their pitcher threw well, and we never could generate any offense except for the one inning we collected four hits and still couldn’t score,” Headen said. “While I’m disappointed with tonight’s loss, we have a good nucleus of players coming back and I fully expect us to be in the mix again next year.”
The Patriots paraded eight batters to the plate in the bottom of the second to forge a 4-0 advantage as Hodges drew a leadoff walk on four pitches and one out later Campbell stroked a double up the alley in left-center to send courtesy runner Nathan Humble to third before the latter continued home when the ball was misplayed in the outfield.
Following a full-count free pass issued to Travis Boone, Parker Robb notched a two-out base hit up the gap in right-center to score Campbell prior to Jones belting an opposite-field double up the alley in left-center to drive in Boone and Robb.
Providence Grove added a solo run in the home third to extend its lead to 5-0 as leadoff batter Drew Needham blooped a double to shallow right field, advanced to third on a one-out wild pitch and came in to score on Campbell’s groundout.
Jordan-Matthews mounted its only serious threat in the top of the fourth when Camden Fuquay and Chris Rios rapped back-to-back singles up the middle with one away.
After Hodges and shortstop Jackson Jones teamed up to pick Fuquay off second, Murchison scratched an infield hit before Huston Causey lined a single up the middle to load the bases, but Hodges got out of the jam by striking out Seth Moore on a 2-2 offering to end the inning.
While Hodges only allowed two other base runners the rest of the way, the Patriots closed out the scoring by plating three runs in the bottom of the fifth.
Leadoff batter Luke Thomas reached on an infield hit and one out later moved to third when Hodges raced all the way to second on an infield error.
Levi Adams then reached on a fielder’s choice and ended up on second as Thomas dashed home on a throwing error that advanced courtesy runner Nathan Humble to third, and Campbell followed with a base hit to left to drive in both Humble and Adams to account for the final margin.